Courtney and her dog Roy loading the daffodils

Flowers at Hadstock Farm

by Ann Van Engelen

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Hadstock Farm has been in the Chamberlain family since 1878, and the family now cultivate 50 acres of spring bulbs and flowers annually.

Situated on the fertile soils alongside the Selwyn River the Chamberlains grow mostly daffodils, tulips and bluebells.

“My sister and I are now the sixth-generation on the farm, and we love being involved in the business and living in the district,” says Courtney.

“At present we are in taking bulbs out of ground, washing, treating and grading them.

“Some bulbs are stored in a coolroom for up to 12 weeks before planting to have early flowering in May, and we sell them to the public via our Hadstock Farm website.

“Planting begins in March with the first daffodil flowers blooming around May through to October with tulips in late September and then bluebells. At the height of harvesting, we have 35 people picking the flowers, and we supply approximately 30,000 bunches of daffodils to the Cancer Society each year.”

Courtney’s parents John and Cynthia and sisters Jessica and Hannah are all enthusiastic about flower growing as well.

“We are not Dutch, but my great grandfather started growing tulips in 1937 during the depression to supplement the farm income. Then my grandfather bought some daffodils back from Holland in the 1950s to grow, and now we mostly grow daffodils because the area is slightly better suited to daffodil bulbs.

To rotate the land and give it a rest we buy in 300 cattle to fatten, or we graze dairy cows.

Hadstock Farm digs their bulbs yearly, and hot water treats them to kill any pests, which may have got on the plants.

“Growing is an all year job and daffodils’ biggest enemy is the fly that lays maggots on the flower, and they burrow down and kill the bulbs.

“We use blood and bone and make sure each bulb is planted twice the depth of the bulb. If they are good bulbs, they will grow well. If people are purchasing at a store, I suggest they give the bulbs a light squeeze before buying them to make sure they are not rotten.”

The company sell by mail order all around the country through the Hadstock Farm website and have an annual pick your own bucket of daffodils for $10 on the first weekend in September every year.

“We love selling direct to the public because know our bulbs have been stored correctly — they should never be displayed out in the sun.

“We enjoy helping people troubleshoot if they are having problems with their flowers as well. Mum runs our florist shop called Miss Feaver Florist at 111 Hills Road in Christchurch. Originally dad ran several florist shops whilst his dad grew the flowers and when we took over the farm we sold all the shops except this one.

“We are all involved and last week being Valentine’s Day it was certainly a fun place to be.

“Flowers are great — they are something you never get sick of and each year we look forward to the first flower opening.”